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40 Under 40

National accolade goes to local social enterprise

40 Under 40

A South Australian-based diversity and inclusion firm has been named the nation’s social enterprise of the year at the 2020 Australian Small Business Champions Awards.

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Social business Community Corporate took out the award against 14 other national social enterprise finalists tackling issues of modern slavery, mental health, transport and food.

It was the first time in the awards’ more than 20-year history that a prize was assigned to one of the nation’s estimated 20,000 social enterprises.

Community Corporate CEO, Solstice Media’s 40 Under 40 alumni and group leader Carmen Garcia said the recognition was important for a sector that had “struggled to get on the radar”.

“As a business award, I think this goes a long way in raising awareness on the role social enterprises play, not only in tackling social problems but making a significant contribution to the economy,” she said.

The South Australian entrepreneur founded the social enterprise in 2013 a bid to remove barriers to work for disadvantaged job seekers through co-designed trainings as well as by partnering with national businesses – including Woolworths, IKEA and On the Run – to provide job opportunities across the country.

“I saw a gap to help bring together corporates and communities who share the same values, aspirations and goals for a more inclusive society,” Garcia said.

“Work gives many a real sense of belonging, but when you arrive with no local experience or recognition of your skills and experience, it’s even more challenging to prove your capability and this is what the majority of refugees and migrants encounter when resettling in Australia.”

Garcia said since establishing the business, Community Corporate had grown from a staff of three to 12 and was supporting hundreds of refugees, migrants, vulnerable youth and women to access the job market in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

It’s the latest in a growing collection of accolades for the social enterprise, which won the KWP! sponsored Creative Thinker Award at Solstice Media’s inaugural 40 Under 40 presentation in 2018.

Solstice Media, the publisher of InDaily, established the 40 Under 40 to celebrate and promote the impact South Australia’s finest young business people have on shaping the future of South Australia. Nominations for the 2021 awards opened this week.

Corporate Community last year also began sponsoring its own prize for the 40 Under 40, the Social Impact award, dedicated to South Australian social entrepreneurship and social enterprise.

“What we’re wanting to do is demonstrate that there is business acumen and commercially viable businesses that are making an impact, and that might be in employment or it might be in the environment, but they’re doing good not just good business,” she said.

“We’re still quite young in South Australia, Victoria has a much more developed social enterprise sector but … there are some really stand-out social enterprises in South Australia that are emerging,” she said.

“We used to be the pioneers of progress and that’s what I love about the 40 Under 40 awards that it really does encourage young business leaders and entrepreneurs to have confidence that our state has each others backs and that we can support each other to grow and be the leaders that we once were.”

Nominations for the 40 Under 40 awards opened this week and will remain open until the end of March. You can nominate someone else or yourself for the awards.

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